Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Hey blogging friends! I don't have a recipe to share for my check-in post. All I made today, other than my parsnip soup at lunch and my delicious scrambled egg wrap for dinner (with an Anna Olson blackberry salad on the side) were cookies that I made for my children and dh from Anna Olson's NON- dietary cookbook Sugar.

Sugar was one of the books that I picked up at the library in a fit of Anna Olson recipe love. It might not have been such a good idea. I'll have to hold strong if I make anything else from it. My excuse: dd REALLY wanted chocolate chip cookies for a lunch snack and had been reading the cookbook. I could have made our Cooking Light oatmeal ones again- the kids ask for that recipe, but I was curious about how an Olson "sweet" recipe would be- since she's "known" more for desserts. I guess I coulda GUESSED that they would be pretty darn good. *sigh*

But I do have a NSV concerning them: I only ate one. Can I get a woo hoo? I deserve a woo hoo. The chocolate is all gooey and warm in each bite. (and not to point fingers, but dh had 3.) :P
Should I even say that everyone in the family gave them a big thumbs up? Was there a doubt? LOL. Why are there no picky eaters when chocolate is involved?

Anyway, in better healthy blogger mode, I thought I'd share a new snack find (that maybe everyone already knows about) I found at Costco: the Praeventia bars. My favourite flavour is Cranberry & Pomegranate with Red Wine Extract. The bars have a lot of healthy ingredients in them and I love the bottom coating of dark chocolate. I also enjoy that they come in two mini bars- makes it seem like more, don't you think? Anyway, I think they are well worth their 2 points.

In check-in news, my weight has held the same this week- well, it has actually gone done a tiny little bit (unofficially). I'm good with that since I was kind of snacky this week. For some reason I haven't been doing my online tracking very well the last couple of weeks. Tomorrow I'm going to start fresh for the week, tracking my food. It really makes a difference for me.

Hope everyone had a good week!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Roast Parsnip Soup

...Roast Parsnip Soup with Honeyed Hazelnuts and Brandy Creme Fraiche, that is! Continuing on the theme of using up organic veggies from my delivery. The recipe is from Inn on the Twenty and wasn't too complicated- other than the pain of pureeing with my mini food processor and the mess of straining. (I lost a lot of soup in spillage!) I didn't make any "Brandy Creme Fraiche" but did the suggested replacement of sour cream (which I had on hand). I used light- naturally. ;)

The recipe called for a pound and a half of parsnips, I only had 3 small ones, so after much internal debate I augmented with the single huge organic turnip I got in my box. I toyed with using the crazy purple carrots from the box, but thought they would change the soup's colour, too much, so I risked the turnip. (I actually like turnip raw, too, and nibbled a bit while I was chopping it up.)

Anyway, the soup tasted good in spite of the turnip, I'll have to try it again with straight parsnips if I get parsnips again. You roast the parsnips (and turnip!) in 350 oven for 20 mins before adding them to the soup pot.

The soup also has 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, (cook those in the pot for 5 mins first in and then add:) 1 garlic clove, (cook another min and then add:) 1/2 c white wine, 6 c stock (I used the organic store bought, though this recipe book has a really tasty sounding stock recipe), 1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 tsp sage. Simmer the soup with the roasted parsnips for about 20-30. (I simmered for much longer, due to timing issues.)

I skipped the optional whipping cream, but did caramelize the hazelnuts in honey. You heat the nuts for 10 mins at 325, take them out and cool them, toss in 1 tbsp of honey, and put back in oven for another 5 or so.

The soup is pretty tasty. Who knew that parsnips could be enjoyable? I really liked the sour cream stirred in and the flavour added by the sage and thyme mixed into the organic chicken stock. (like a turkey dinner in soup form! :)) I worked it out to about 4 points for a bowl.

Hope everyone had a good Monday! Step class was cancelled today so I didn't get my lunch hour workout in. I'll have to head to bed so I'm more motivated to workout tomorrow!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Race Day and an Organic Dinner

Today was the oldest North American road race: the Around the Bay 30K Road Race and it poured. Kudos to all those who RAN ANYWAY, including our friend and running partner, Dana- pictured here about the 20K mark and still smiling. I was chatting and holding a Tim Horton's coffee when she appeared suddenly in front of us, so I took this jogging beside her, struggling with a coffee (got coffee up my nose at one point) and the camera. She was still happy and smiling. Watching this race always makes me want to do it again. Gotta cut down on the excuses (like bad weather: I've become a wimp!) and just do it. kwim?

I really enjoyed tonight's dinner, which was pretty much entirely shaped by the remaining veggies in my organic delivery. I had a number of things to use up. Firstly, I tried the crockpot beet recipe in my new cookbook from Montreal: art of the Slow Cooker. This is the second recipe I tried from it and so far it's 2 for 2 in tasty recipes. Tonight's Slow-Roasted Beets with Walnut Gremolata (2 pts a serving) was very flavourful and really not too tricky either. I wore plastic gloves for the beet preparation this time: no purple pinkies. The beets were tender and firm with the orange zesty walnut gremolata sprinkled over top. mmmm...Beets aren't something I'd want every day, but if you're going to have them, this recipe is the way to go.

Slow-Roasted Beets recipe in brief: After scrubbing the beets (I used 4 oversized organic ones), you heat them in the micro for 8 mins to soften so you can peel the skins off. Next you slice them into quarters once cooled down (I cut mine in more pieces since they were jumbo large) and put them in the crock. Toss with 1/4c orange juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, quartered garlic clove, salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 hours on high. The walnut gremolata part is made separately and sprinkled over the cooked beets. (gremolata: toasted 1/2c walnut pieces, orange zest from 1/2 orange, 1 tsp chopped parsley.) 6 servings, 2 pts. each

I also made a couple of recipes from a public library cookbook. (I went a little crazy in ordering cookbooks at the library while I was waiting for dd. I currently have a huge stack! ) Inn on the Twenty Cookbook is a compilation of recipes by Anna (of In the Kitchen) and Michael Olson served at their restaurant in Ontario. With just a quick skim, I saw so many recipes that I'd like to try.

I did a modified version of their Warm Mushroom Salad with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette. (In that I completely skipped the tomato part, being without any sundried tomatoes.) Using the small bag of shiitake mushrooms I had left from my organic box, the salad was delicious. Who would have that a dressingless salad except for a mushroom concoction would be so tasty? As the only mushroom lover in the house, though, I was the only one who really ate it. It was so good though!

Mushroom Salad summary: In a med skillet, over med-high heat, I sauteed 1 tbsp of diced onion (didn't have shallots) in a bit of olive oil for 1 min. Next I added sliced shiitake mushrooms (it called for 1 pound, I had around 1/4 of that- under 100g), fresh thyme and a minced garlic clove. After the mushrooms were softened, I stirred in a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with salt and pepper and cooked for just a couple of mins more. The Olsons use a salad green mix, I used the watercress and arugula that I had from my delivery. Loved it! You should try it!

Finally, on my dinner plate, I roughly followed one of the potato recipes from the same book- basically potatoes tossed in olive oil and fresh rosemary AND did a chicken recipe from the new Clean Eating. (May/June 2009) Spice Islands Marinated Chicken served with a fresh mix of island fruit. It was very tasty, too. The only change I made was to use some of my light Coconut milk mixed with water (1/2 and 1/2) for the coconut water which I couldn't find.

Hope everyone has a good week, full of exercises without excuses- even under pouring rain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mac and Cheese with a Secret Ingredient

Hey all. Got thru my official weigh-in day only being up 0.6 from my last official wi, so not too bad considering!

For dinner tonight, I made this mac and cheese dish- Macaroni and Four Cheeses, to be exact, from the EatSmart magazine (with Ellie Krieger). I TRIED to follow the recipe exactly, but couldn't find frozen squash anywhere- even after calling around to places. Anyway, since I'd bought all the cheeses, I thought I'd try replacing it with canned pumpkin that I had on hand.

It actually was pretty good- after the first surprising taste, I couldn't really taste the pumpkin. I also replaced the bread crumbs with crushed Baked! Lays (which I thought were on my grocery list for THIS recipe, but apparently not). To possibly balance out the extra points from this, all my cheeses were of the lower fat variety. The rest of the recipe I followed exactly.

Both my girls liked it after trying. Younger dd actually had seconds. Dh thought it was something they might serve in prison. LOL. Can't win them all.

I had my serving with some medium salsa and it was very tasty. The mac and cheese has a bit of a kick to it, itself. ( Cayenne pepper strikes again.)

You get 2 cups for 8 points- quite generous, eh?

In veggie news, our organic delivery finally arrived last night- after being a no show for supper time. Tonight my veggie side was a delicious salad blend. Not sure what all the whispy bits were, but some had a radishy and peppery bite. Love that. Had it with my Asian Sesame blend. Tasty!

Dh, on the other hand, said he was looking for dandelions in it- mumbling something about the lawn mower bag. *sigh* ;P

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Checking in after March Break madness

Time for the HYC check in after my week sliding off into the March Break of Cake with a side of ice cream. So far, it doesn't look like the damage is too, too bad. This morning I was up a pound from my last official weigh in. Unfortunately, I'd lost another unofficially after the wi (so I'm up a couple from where I COULD be), but it's ok. I'm back on track now. Hopefully. My mom lives in a different province. (Just kidding Mom!) :)

Things I need to work on week: more glasses of water (I've been really neglecting the H20)and more consistent exercise. Hopefully I can work off my March break this week.

Finally pictured above: the flax waffles my sister sweetly made for us when we stayed over in Toronto before heading to Montreal. Aren't they pretty? and I'm touched that she went for the healthier waffle recipe. They were very tasty, too. and weren't served with ice cream. ;)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs Cooking Light Style

I have to admit I pretty much always buy spaghetti sauce, BUT in the effort to try a new recipe and add more protein to our evening meal (cause we usually have it plain with the only protein coming from cheese), and to also use up a cup of my excess organic onions that are sprouting into green onion trees, I looked up a Spaghetti and Meatball recipe on Cooking Light and made it last night.

Overall, I really liked it and would make it again. The sauce is actually pretty spicy and a little too hot for my girls. My younger dd liked the meat balls the best, but next time I wouldn't put them in the sauce- she likes things separated (and worked hard to wipe the sauce off her meatballs with her napkin.) She likes sauces the most in the family, ironically, but nothing can touch or run into each other. Dh didn't like the runniness of the homemade sauce or the onions. He also likes his meatballs more burnt. (LOL) Anyway, personally, I thought the meatballs were perfectly cooked following the CL directions. I prefer them non-rubbery and non-blackened. But that's just me! :P Elder dd liked the spaghetti with the sauce, but found it spicy and only ate one and a half of the meatballs- though she claimed to like them ok.

In terms of modifications, I did the recipe as is except I didn't mix the sauce into the noodles. (Esp. for younger dd with her desire for sauce on the side.) I guess next time I make these, I'd also cut back on the onion (although it was good to use some up!) and on the red pepper flakes in the sauce for the peeps. A dish of 3/4 cup of the pasta mixture with 1/2 cup sauce, and 3 meatballs will cost you 9 points.

In exercise news, I did end up run-walking on the treadmill before bed yesterday. (Guilt made me work it in, so yeah for having you guys- my exercise consciences!) I taught a step class at lunch today, so I'm 2/2 on the exercise this week. I'll have to keep this streak going.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March Break Mmmmmmuffins

Something old, something new...as March Break dwindles away. *sniffle* This morning eldest dd (for a change) and I remade the Pumpkin Pie muffins little dd and I made a few posts ago. (Look below for recipe, if you are so inclined.) This time I left out the pumpkin seeds cause I plan to freeze the ones we don't eat today for the girls' lunches and they didn't love the seeds.
The other muffins I made on Saturday before my shopping trip with one of my gfs. On said trip, I bought a new Lululemon outfit. It was pricey, but we'll say it's a reward for my over 20 pound loss. and move on, ok? Now I'll have to workout today for sure. I'm currently wearing it as I type this- it's comfy even for lounging and eating muffins. Preferable, even?

I bought black Boogie Pants in capri length and a tank top in bright yellow with polka dots. I liked this one in particular because it has a pocket for an Ipod and I'm still without a holder for my Touch. I usually put it on the exercise machine somewhere, but it always seems precarious on our home treadmill. I'll lyk how the Touch fits it when I work out later: making a promise here. I gotta make my Nike mini me on this blog active again, too. It kind of depresses me when it gets so lazy looking. Like I'm bringing it down with me. :P

Anyway, back to muffins: the Saturday muffins were from the online Cooking Light recipe stash. These Morning Glory Muffins used up a couple cups of my organic carrots and one cup of my many organic apples. Woo hoo! There's actually a ton of ingredients in them, but I had everything on hand except the pecans and the apple butter. I PLANNED to make another crock pot of apple butter- using up some more of my excess apples, but didn't get around to it, so I used store bought apple sauce instead. I also skipped the raisins in the hopes my children would like them, but it didn't work. So far it's just me, dh and my shopping gf who've liked them. I really liked them. dh of the "I prefer a dry muffin" was forced into trying one, but then ate two. (He's still going on about the moistness of the Anna Olson Banana Bran muffins, btw. lol)

I will definitely make these again. I might try replacing the raisins with dried cranberries next time OR 1/2 c of chocolate chips- which someone did in the recipe reviews. The recipe makes quite a few muffins (24), so I plan to freeze some for lunches to take for work *sob* lunches. Each Morning Glory muffin will cost you 3 points. The Pumpkin Pie ones are 4.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Slow-Cooked Teriyaki Chicken and the Movies

Just back from taking the girls and friends to the Witch Mountain movie (pretty fun and strangely violent for a kid movie) and now we are waiting until midnight to go and pick up our copy of Twilight. woo hoo. (Ya, we could wait until morning, but it's much more exciting to truck out in the middle of the night to Blockbuster, right? and dd has her Twilight t-shirt on, so we're pretty much ready to rock! :))

Anyway, before the movie action, I made a recipe from my new slow cooker recipe book from my March Break travels: "Art of the Slow Cooker" by Andrew Schloss. The book was a little pricey (almost $30. Canadian), but I was drawn to the recipes in it: fresh ingredients and beautiful pictures. Right away there were a few that I knew I'd try (and not just read about, like I sometimes do.)

The one I tried tonight Slow-Cooked Teriyaki Chicken was excellent. The instructions seemed a little cumbersome: broiling the chicken AFTER the 2 hours in the slow cooker, but it was easy to take out the chicken (not too much liquid) and then heat up the liquid in a pan. I served it with rice and the sauce was really tasty with the rice. We had a side of the arugula salad (from Anna Olson's book) and crusty bread. Everyone liked the chicken. I was the biggest lover of the sauce. Definitely a keeper!

Now off to pick up the copy of our vampire movie! Night all! :)

Slow-Cooked Teriyaki Chicken

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 pds skinless chicken thighs (about 8), bone in (or you can use breasts- which I did)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated ginger root (learned you store it at room temp with foil over cut bits!)
1/4 c plus 1 +1/2 tbsp water
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c sherry or apple juice (I used apple cider)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp dark molasses
3 tbsp honey
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp dark sesame oil
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Heat oil in large skillet over high. Brown chicken 3 mins per side. Put in (5-6 quart) crock pot.

Add garlic and ginger to skillet over med-high heat. Cook about 30 secs. Add 1/4 c water and scrape up bottom bits. Add soy, sherry, rice wine, vinegar, molasses, honey and stir. Pour over chicken, cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, until chicken cooked thru. (I used chicken breasts, so cooked for 2 hours. Temp is supposed to be 165 F on meat therm, if you like to check.)

Preheat boiler to high, remove chicken to broiler tray and broil for 2 mins on each side. While chicken is broiling, add liquid from crock pot to a skillet and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 + 1/2 tsbp of water and add to sauce. Stir until thickened about 1 min. Arrange chicken on a platter, spoon sauce over. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with scallions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hello from Montreal!

Just a quick check-in. I'm typing from my parents' old computer. I have no recipes to share: just a report that my mother has been over feeding me! Cake and ice cream 2 nights in a row. What? I'm a grown woman who could turn down cake and ice cream? Really? :P

What happens to my healthy eating when I'm away from my regular controlled environment? I hit the pause button. *sigh* Well, I'm still doing better (cake and ice cream aside) then I would have done in the past. I'm still making better choices overall and turning down somethings. Like this morning, I turned down my mother's muffin offer since I'd already eaten my bowl of cereal. That's a small victory, right? I have some ability to turn down food. Even stuff with chocolate in it. (They were banana bran chocolate chip muffins.)

I have no recipes to share, as I said, but I did buy a new, delightful looking crock pot recipe book with some healthy looking recipes to try. I'll have to input them all into the online ww recipe tracker though, as there are no nutritional values given in it. Shouldn't it be like stuff we buy in the grocery store? everything labelled? with cals, fat and fiber at least? Just sayin'!

I also have no pictures to share. I did bring my camera, but didn't think you'd want to see a picture of my large piece of chocolate cake with ice cream. Anyway, I found this old picture my dad scanned I guess. It's of my cousin, Tracey and I at my dad's old homestead on the Gaspe coast. It cracks me up because my sweet Aunt Dot was so over-protective (and guess which one of us turned out to be the wild child? irony, eh?). My cousin is COVERED in a towel, while I'm totally not and probably getting soaked. Love my mother- even though she feeds me cake!

Hope you all are having a good week! I think I regained the amount I HAD been down during this past week, but that's ok. I'll do better when I'm home again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cranberry Orange Scones

Actually got out to my morning (chilly!) stair workout with my running partner. We didn't do them a ton *coughtwotimes* and we only did the steep golf course hill ONCE, BUT, hey! I got out and did a little, right? while the rest of the family were pretty much lounging or sleeping (not pointin' fingers, but just sayin') .

I should mention that these stairs go up the side of a mountain, just in case you think they were super short or anything. I WAS huffing and puffing greatly. In the boot camp days, though, you'd do them like 6 times? 8 times? When I called dh from Starbucks (mmmm...Chai latte!) afterwards to see if he wanted a coffee, he was all surprised "I thought you were running?" so it all was pretty short. LOL Probably 30 mins in total of exercise. (but again, please refer to paragraph one)

So, anyway, with this workout under my belt, I enjoyed my chai and then went home to make cranberry orange scones from the Anna Olson cookbook (which I have to take back today, someone requested it at the library- annoyingly pushy fellow patrons!) I might actually buy my own copy. I lurve this cookbook- truly! It's so pretty.

Hope everyone is having a nice start of March Break- if it's MB in your world. We're off to Toronto today to stay over at my sister's (should be some good eating there. Should have had a longer workout and less scone! eep!) Then tomorrow we're off to Montreal to visit my mom for a few days. I'm going to try to report in there and stay on plan. We'll see how it goes. I was down another pound this morning and I'm seeing some ab definition from all this weight work we're doing with our gym testing. :)

Cranberry Orange Scones
1 1/2c flour my flour container currently has a combo whole wheat and reg flour mix- probably lowered the points? but I just counted all-purpose flour in the tracker
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp orange zest I used the zest from one orange. It made less that 1 tbsp clumped.
1/4 tsp fine salt I used reg table salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled You could cut down on butter?
1/2 c half and half cream (plus, extra for brushing)
2/3c dried cranberries This was a lot o' cranberries. You could cut down.
Preheat oven to 375. Grease baking sheet.
Mix first 5 in bowl. Cut the butter into dry mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Add cream and mix to form dough and then add cranberries.
Roll dough out 3 times on floured surface. (This is Anna's trick for a flaky scone.) Roll into a 1 inch thick disc and cut surface into 6 pieces. Place on baking sheet and brush with extra cream. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until tops are nicely browned.
6 servings, 7 points each. I know! high points! BUT delicious. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cornflaked Chicken Fingers and One Day to Freedom

...the freedom that is March Break that is. woo hoo!

Didn't make anything today- went to the nicer gym tonight (we might pick this one if we get a good deal.) I did the elliptical, the bike and the treadmill. No weights tonight, since we did them yesterday. They do have nice weight machines. One thing we noticed was that while it LOOKS like they have a ton of treadmills, we couldn't get 2 together that actually worked (that didn't have people on them) and there were quite a few free. Not sure if this was typical. Many had an emergency button (or something) error message. Any gym members familiar with this?

Anyway, after our workout we did a drive-thru takeout: veggie burgers for me and the dh (or Lick's Nature Burgers for those who know that chain). Love their burgers: you can buy them at the grocery store, too, though I haven't for a long while. It's funny how you get in the habit of buying certain foods and then kind of out of habit. I'm like that anyway. Alternating in cravings.

Yesterday, though, I tried another recipe from the fine Cooking EatSmart magazine: Crispy Chicken Fingers with Honey-Mustard Sauce. I found the recipe here, though they don't credit the magazine (that I can see anyway).

The chicken fingers were good. They are- as their description- pretty mild. If you like a spicier recipe, you might want to jazz them up a bit. The mustard sauce, which I forgot to take a pic of, was only tried by me (dh ate alone after we were all at our various activities) and so I wasn't there to spoon it onto his plate, he skipped it. He's not really a sauce guy, but I think he would have liked it.

Happy almost Friday before March Break! :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Planning Meals around Fruits and Vegetables

Okay, first let me admit that I can't say that I'm the greatest on getting all the fruits and vegetables that I should all the time, BUT I'm getting better. woo hoo! One thing that is helping me (besides my ww online tracker with the fruits and veggie check off box which makes me feel guilty when I don't fill it-but then I carry on!) is my organic veggie weekly order.

I'm going into my second month of getting the order (after placing it online), and I have to say that it really has improved the variety of veggies and fruits that I eat AND I'm finding that I plan more recipes around the veggies that I'm given. Love that! The organic box is like a little challenge each week to- the goal: to waste less from the box. So far I'm doing pretty well.

I also love the fact that some of my friends have signed up for deliveries and share some of their recipes with me, too. One of my friends and I have incorporated a walk/run into our pickup time.
(Couldn't do it tonight: too cold and rainy.)

Anyway, luckily for my goal to get to bed earlier tonight, I actually found the new coleslaw recipe I tried tonight online. Cooking Light is definitely the best magazine to review, with its wealth of online recipes. (Thanks CL!) My Tuesday pickup came with a cabbage, so I tried Tangy Mustard Coleslaw to go along with our Tuesday Tacos. (I have to admit, for this one, the tacos came first! lol)

Ken and I liked the slaw the most. It was a little too tangy for the chillens. It's tart! but for a mere 1 point per serving, tart is good...

...as are produce orders.

Think of it like paying for a personal trainer, but for your food. Well worth the cost if you can swing it. :)

Sleep tight!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Makin' Muffins with My Sidekick Chef

I was hoping to get to bed earlier tonight, but here I am at 11 pm just posting. Time flies when it's your "free" evening time, eh? Anyway, thought I'd share some pics of a new muffin recipe that we tried tonight. These Pumpkin Pie Muffins are from EatSmart from the publishers of fine Cooking. I came across it at Costco and thought it looked good. It's actually like buying a recipe book- almost- in price: it retails at $11. Isn't that more book than magazine? I guess not nowadays. (ok, now I sound like an old timer. LOL) Anyway, it was a bit cheaper at Costco than retail at least.

The recipes in it are the creation of Ellie Krieger (not sure if she did all of them) who writes, "I believe that luscious and healthy can be used in the same sentence." I like that! I'm trying to live more fully with healthy, but interesting foods. That's my goal anyway.

Anyway, the muffins are really good. Very dark and moist- like gingerbread almost? or, I guess, Pumpkin Pie. We made them kind of late- by the time we were done, so dd and I just split one, since it was actually after her bedtime. (I need to get her her own apron. She used to have one, but she out grew it. I took a pic cause her floured shirt looked cute to me.)

Anyway, my assistant chef picked off the pumpkin seeds, but gave them a big thumbs up (and wants them in her lunch bag tomorrow.) They will cost you 4 points a piece if you are a ww girl. Not too bad for a big, luscious (and yet healthy!) muffin.

In early (for me) HYC check in news, I was actually down a couple of pounds (unofficially) this morning. I had a pretty good week: same old story: need to exercise more consistently and need to drink more water. Also, need to get to bed earlier! like now! Hope you all had a good week! :)

Here's the nuts and bolts of the recipe in brief as I couldn't find it online. lmk if you have any questions. I left out extra description, as usual.

Pumpkin Pie Muffins
1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour (or whole-grain pastry) I used a combo flour mixture
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar I only had light for 1/2 c and then a brown Splenda mix
3 tbsp unsulfured molasses
1/4 c canola oil I used vegetable oil since we were out
2 eggs
1 c pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c buttermilk
1/4 c unsalted raw pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven 400 F. Coat muffin pan with cooking spray.
In med bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, salt and spices. In large bowl, whisk sugar, molasses, oil and eggs- adding one at a time. Whisk in pumpkin and vanilla.
Alternate adding flour mix and buttermilk. Whisking. Does all this whisking earn APs?
Bake for 20 mins until toothpick comes out clean. :)
Makes 12 muffins 205 cals, 7 g fat- 1 sat, 2 g fiber

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anna's Banana Bran Muffins

Sorry to any Twitter friends who saw this muffin pic already today! I only took one...and didn't take a pic of the crock pot lasagna, since I shared it already. (I did cut on hour off the cooking time this time, btw. The lasagna's top and side was a bit dark last time. My crock pot is new and shiny and extra HOT apparently. So that's a new tidbit for your crock pot notes.)

Anyway, back to the muffins from In the Kitchen with Anna, dh and I were the only ones who gave the muffins a fair try today. Both the girls nibbled and then gently expressed their dismay (yelled, spit stuff out: Miss Manners would have been pleased.) Bran muffins are new to them. They are not really fair or openminded reviewers. (I need a new review staff!) ;)

Ken and I both liked them. Ken is used to a "drier" muffin- he likes all things dry and/or crispy and muffins are, apparently, no exception. Anna Olson is going for moist with these: she has you soak the bran in buttermilk for 15 mins for extra moistness. I enjoy a moist muffin, but found them really banana-y. My bananas were uber ripe: blacken shapes in the fridge, but seemed fine unpeeled. I also used 3 for the 1 and 1/2 c (the recipe said it could be 2 or 3 bananas), so maybe with less ripe and less mashed bananas? I would recommend them though- if you enjoy a moist and banana rich muffin which is quite large for a mere 4 points. I'm packing one for lunch tomorrow. :)
Here is the recipe in brief. lmk if you try them and whether your personal reviewers like them!

Best Banana Bran Muffins
1 1/2c wheat bran
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2c mashed banana
2/3 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 1/2c flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c raisins I skipped for my children. Next time I'll add them. :)

Preheat oven 350 and grease 12 muffin tin.

In a small bowl blend bran and buttermilk. Let sit 15 mins.

In a large bowl whisk banana, sugar, eggs and oil. Add bran mixture.

In another bowl stir flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to batter, stirring until just combined. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake 20-25 mins until top springs back. Makes 12 muffins (4 points without raisins :))

Saturday, March 7, 2009

a dusty gym and a delicious dinner

The gym we checked out this morning really was a dismal place, but my friend and I had a fun time anyway. It was really a blast from the past: some of the equipment was exactly the same as from our days at the YMCA in the early 90s. (Possibly the exact machines- they were pretty old.) We also accidentally walked into and left our stuff in the men's change room. har. The door was open and no one gave us a tour and I thought that the first change room was the ladies. lol. LUCKILY (or unluckily? ;)) there was just one dressed man in there when we went back to get our stuff AND we'd both worn our workout clothes there (mine covered by a pair of jeans since it was coolish in the morning.) He guarded the door for us while we ran and got our stuff.
Anyway, this gym still has the projected floor plans in all their glory on the wall, but it doesn't look like any of the renos will take place though the management is still saying that it's starting shortly (April). I guess they've been saying - this for years.

So, we're still undecided about which gym we will join- if any. This gym has a parking pass and my friend works downtown. The other gym is super fancy- recently renovated- (guess we shouldn't have gone there first, eh?) but has no parking and we're not sure what kind of a deal we can get. AND then there's always boot camp again. They are offering a deal, too.

Anyway, I have been enjoying doing weights and the cardio machines at the gyms. Neither seem to offer many classes- well, the fancy one definitely has more. The rundown one's aerobic room is a wreck with bits of equipment scattered about and a big hole in the wall. "Ghetto" as my friend summed up. :P BUT we could still get a workout there...though we might be depressed during it. ;) decisions, decisions...

I made two more recipes tonight from In the Kitchen with Anna: Sweet Potato with Onion & Pumpkin Seeds and Arugula with Avocado, Blackberry & Feta. They were both very good. I went to our local butcher to find steaks (as suggested by Olson to go with the arugula side ). Anyway, when I got there, I found the Berkshire (heritage meat) pork chops that the liquor store recipe called for last week. Soooooooo...I did the pork recipe again. It was even better this time. :)

Sweet Potato with Onion & Pumpkin Seeds

3 Tbsp olive oil I used 2
2 c sliced onion I chopped mine and mine darkened too quickly (but tasted good!)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 lb sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 1/2 in, diced I only a pound
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 /2 c unsalted pumpkin seeds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a med, heavy-bottomed pan, heat oil over med heat and saute onions and thyme until onions are caramelized, about 40 mins. Toss with potato in a baking dish and roast for 30 mins. Remove from oven and toss in lemon juice and seeds.
(6 servings/ 4 points)

Arugula with Avocado, Blackberry & Feta

c arugula, washed and trimmed
1 avocado (sliced)
1/2 pint of blackberries
1/2 c crumbled feta I used 1/4 cup of light feta
juice of 1 lime
good quality olive oil I used 2 tsp
salt & pepper
Arrange salad ingredients. Sprinkle salad with lime juice and olive oil. Season lightly.
(6 servings, 2 points)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chickpea, Chard & Potato Soup with Rosemary & Lemon

Made a delicious soup tonight after my workout (pat! pat!) It was so good. :) Had it with half a crusty roll left over from last night (with a little bit of light butter). mmmmm...

On our Tuesday library run, one of the cookbooks I picked up was one I preordered : In the Kitchen with Anna. It's a lovely book with stories behind each recipe, techniques and a description of the taste. It also has a number of recipes I want to try. It's funny when I first flipped open it it fell to this recipe (to which I thought "Great! I have chard in my organic box.") and then to a sweet potato recipe with pumpkin seeds (which I also have- no extra shopping! Don't you love that?"). Co-inky-dink!

Anyway, I really love this soup. You should try it. It's 3 points for a bowl. (Recipe to follow)

In exercise news, I actually exercised twice today: I taught step at lunch break AND I had a 20 minute run on my treadmill. I love my Touch and my Nike Ipod program: music helps make me forget my suffering and at the end, Lance Armstrong's voice came on to congratulate me for breaking a personal record. First the man is twittering me all the time, and now this. huh. He must be drawn to my crumbling muffin top (that we athletes naturally boast of), right? ;)

Chickpea, Chard & Potato Soup with Rosemary & Lemon

2 Tbsp oilve oil
1 c diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
5 c chicken stock (I used a combo of chicken and veg PC organic no fat stock)
6 sliced white mini potatoes
1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch Swiss chard
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish (I skipped this)

Heat oil in pot over med heat. Saute onion 5 mins (til translucent). Add garlic, lemon zest and rosemary and stir for a min. Add chicken stock and potatoes, cover pot loosely and bring to simmer. Lower heat and simmer till potatoes are tender, 20 mins. Stir in chickpeas.

Wash chard and separate stems from leaves. Chop stems into 1 in pieces. Add to soup. Simmer 5 mins. Chop leaves and add to soup, now leaving pot uncovered and simmering until chard wilted, about 3 mins. Season to taste.

Before serving stir in lemon juice. Top bowls with chopped parsley. Serves 6.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Checking In with Tool Time

Hey HYC check-in people! Why am I always the late check-in girl? Well, tonight it was because I was making a Hi-lari-ous comic for your enjoyment. har. (Hope you can read it- it's kind of small looking here!) Didn't have a recipe to share: I did make a WW chicken recipe yesterday- but it was just so-so. Soooooo...thought I'd share my two new kitchen tools in comic form. Crazy? Kinda!

How is this diet related? Don't you find having the right tools makes it more likely that one might be inspired to try some new recipes? For me, keeping my interest level up with new recipes keeps me on track better (and makes me want to stay in and cook instead of going out.) In Canada we have a store called Homesense, where you can find all kinds of cool kitchen gadgets for super cheap. I love shopping for kitchen stuff, though you couldn't tell from my prehistoric veggie peeler and broken garlic press.

(Just ask my TO sister who rolls her eyes are our super cheap cutting knives, for example- lol- and apartment day's cheese grater: which she replaced at Christmas time. It's ok to get kitchen stuff from your sister- who shops at better stores than you, but don't get any ideas, Ken!)

(isn't my pink veggie peeler cute?)

In check-in news, I had a pretty good week overall. I was kind of snacky this week- feeling more hungry than usual. I even had some french fries at one point (though I ordered a salad for myself and then swiped the fries off my children's plates. :P) I should have also worked out more: a few of my workouts got cancelled. So this week, I'm going to work on my water (again) and scheduling more frequent workouts. Hope you all had a good week! :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Liquor Store Recipes *hic!*

Our province's liquor store, er- monopoly? (the LCBO) has a seasonal glossy magazine called Food & Drink. It is very popular and it's hard to get a copy if you don't frequent the liquor store (so SOMETIMES I miss it- since you have to go home sometime, eh? ;)). Anyway, this weekend I tried a couple from the Winter 2009 issue. Unfortunately, they aren't online yet, though you can check out some of their OTHER recipes here. The ones I tried are below.

We all liked the Cider-Braised Ontario Pork Chops with Apples and Garlic. I really loved the apples with the chops. I was the only one who really did- or who actually tried the apples with the pork. My family isn't big on sauces and extras. No one wanted to try pressing out the garlic (except me!) either. I grew up loving apple sauce with pork chops, so I'm always a little disappointed when my kids won't give it a try! (The garlic non-love, I can live with- as long as they don't complain about ME trying it. ;))

The other dish involved the ancient grain, quinoa, in Quinoa with Tomatoes, Parmesan & Basil. I've never tried quinoa and thought it was very tasty, though the dish didn't turn out perfectly. It really had too much liquid. I think it needed to simmer longer- and I kept it in for longer than called for, but the rest of the dinner was getting cold or over cooked, so eventually I just cut my losses and served it. So, I would add to the simmering time below OR boil it a little longer. Maybe I cut THAT too short? Anyway, it didn't fluff very well. lol. I DO want to try it again- it really did taste good, if it was a little unappetizing looking. It was definitely a do-again.

Cider-Braised Ontario Pork Chops with Apples and Garlic

4 Berkshire pork chops, 1″ thick I just got reg loin chops :)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 head garlic, broken into cloves unpeeled
1 c. hard dry cider I used reg cider
2 cooking apples, cored
12 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Pat pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over med-high brown pork chops 2-3 mins per side.

3. While the chops are browning, place the garlic cloves in a small sauce pan, pour in cider, and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 4 mins.

4. Cut each apple crosswise into 4 slices. I used an extra apple that I cut "wrong" :)

5. Place the apple slices in a baking dish and then place the browned chops on top. Remove the frying pan from heat and pour in the garlic and cider, stirring to deglaze the pan. Pour this mixture over the chops; there should be just enough liquid to cover the bottom of the dish. Top the chops with sage and bake for 30-40 mins. or until the juices from the pork chops run clear.

6. Serve each chops with two apple slices, sage and garlic. Spoon over the liquid.

To squeeze the garlic out of the skin just press with your fork. (or NOT if you are a member of my family!)

(6 points per serving)

Quinoa with Tomatoes, Parmesan & Basil

1 c quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 c vegetable stock
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 c frshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c thinly sliced fresh basil
Shaved Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

1. Rinse quinoa in a sieve, stirring. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in saucepan over med heat. Add onion and saute for 3 mins or until starting to soften. Add garlic, pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and saute for 1 min. Add stock and bring to boil, scraping up any bits.

3. Stir in quinoa and return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 mins. or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed. 15 mins wasn't long enough. Mine still had a lot of liquid even with extra time. I should have boiled it longer maybe? Remove from heat and sprinkle tomatoes on top. Cover and let stand 5 mins.

4. Gently stir in tomatoes, the grated Parmesan, and half of the basil with a fork, fluffing as you stir. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with shaved Parmesan and remaining basil.

(3 points per serving)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Cleansing Chocolate Break

(you reading this, Cammy? This ones for you! ;))

Here's a late (much later than I'd hoped!) night- my computer is driving me crazy it's so uber slow- chocolate share. Today Morgie and I made Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies from the Cooking Light site. We skipped the pecan part- so (a) my kids could take them in their school lunch box and (b) they would actually eat them and (c) I don't think I actually have pecans on hand.

Anyway, the cookies were very tasty. Like all cookies, these probably taste best hot from the oven, but even cooled down, they are crispy, but still very good. Thumbs up all round in our house. You get 3 dozen cookies from this recipe and mine worked out just one cookie short of that number. yeah!

For the last batch, I was out of cookie sheets (dd is using one currently for one of her "crafts" and I only own 3), so I decided to use one of my muffin tins. Have you ever tried this? It made for adorable, perfectly round, uniform sized cookies. (except the ones I mangled from dropping them onto the cutting board from the muffin tin.) Anyway, it's probably an old baking trick, but I thought it was cool- maybe it was just my happiness from the chocolate baking smells making the kitchen seem such a clever little place?

The other thing I liked about this recipe, was the use of the mini chocolate chips- which I had on hand from making Devin Alexander's recipes. She loves them, too. It really makes it seem like you have more chocolate in using the minis: they end up all over the cookies: more fair to all cookie eaters.

side note: the recipe called for parchment paper and like the pecans, I'm all out. I skipped it and just sprayed everything. The cookies baked fine. I'm learning to watch the really dark, non-stick cookie sheet: the cookies on it cook too fast and burn the bottoms a bit. Next time, I'll use my other muffin tin instead. See my kitchen really is a clever, happy place. ;)
Each of these cookies will cost you 2 points. :)